Islamabad’s public schools are currently grappling with a lack of investment and resources, as well as budget cuts. Absenteeism is rife, with 5.5 million children out of school, according to a UNESCO report from 2013. Female students make up two thirds of this number.
Because of the variation in standards, the very different Islamic curriculum and the fact that many schools teach in Urdu, alternative private international schools are a popular choice for expats moving to Islamabad. There are a number of options to choose from. They include the prestigious International School of Islamabad. The coeducational, college-preparatory day school is set over 23 acres of land on Islamabad’s outskirts. Other options include Froebel's International School, which is also popular with Pakistani nationals and adheres to the International Primary Curriculum from Early Years to A levels. A similar institution is Islamabad’s Roots International School, which teaches pupils with a view to taking British education system exams.
The public healthcare facilities are moderately good in Islamabad, although the standards vary across the city in terms of resources and cleanliness. The emergency services struggle to meet demand and cannot always be relied upon to respond adequately.
It is therefore highly recommended that expats invest in a good private health insurance plan. That said, you should not expect Islamabad’s private healthcare facilities to be free of all flaws. It has been criticized by many for being expensive and poorly regulated.
Health insurance options include AIG Pakistan, the local subsidiary of AIG, one of the most established health insurance firms in the world. Allianz EFY is also a local insurance company that specializes specifically in health.
Islamabad is home to a handful of private hospitals including Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital, Islamabad Private Hospital and Shifa International Hospital.
Islamabad is blessed with several cultural and religious attractions that reflect the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. They include the world-famous Faisal Mosque and the Pakistan Monument Museum. There are also several natural spots, including the popular Margalla Hills.
Many of the big cinemas show the latest flicks in English as well as other foreign languages like Hindi. Outlets showing international films include Al Shatti Multiplex, Star Cinema and Ruwi Cinema.
For culture lovers, the city boasts of some important museums and cultural venues, such as the Lok Virsa Museum and the Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage in Shakarparian Park.
Islamabad offers a number of options for shopping. They include a number of mega malls like The Centaurus Mall, which is located in central Islamabad and has a wide range of retail, entertaining and dining options.
Islamabad also has some fantastic options in terms of outdoor markets. A range of traditional items and hand-made goods are on offer at Handicrafts Village. Kohsar Market is one of the best places to go in the city for imported and delicacy foods from sirloin steaks to taco shells.